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Preview: Vees get reinforcements with Merritt in town

Penticton, BC: The Penticton Vees (24-9-2-2) have won back to back games by sweeping Prince George and Wenatchee last weekend, and now continue their four-game home stand against the Merritt Centennials (16-18-2-1) in the fourth meeting of the season series.

Saturday night the Vees bested the Wenatchee Wild for the first time this year with a 5-2 win. Massimo Rizzo lead the way offensively with a goal and two assists while Adam Scheel stood tall with 25 saves.

Jared Nash opened the scoring by banking the puck off goaltender Austin Park from below the goal line before Josh Arnold tied the game with 1:29 to go in the opening frame.

The Vees pulled away in the second period with three unanswered goals as Taylor Ward, Jordan Henderson and Marcus Mitchell all tallied to give Penticton a 4-1 lead through 40 minutes.

AJ Vanderbeck and Rizzo exchanged goals in the third as the Vees won their second straight game in front of nearly 3,300 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

The Centennials are coming off a weekend split as they were shutout by the Vernon Vipers Friday night before rebounding with a 4-2 win over Salmon Arm Saturday.

Merritt has been treading water in the Interior Division in recent weeks; their record over the last 10 games is 5-5-0-0 with 30 goals for and 29 goals against.

Penticton has a 3-0 record against Merritt so far this season with the last meeting coming October 20 at home, a 4-2 Vees win. Jacob Berger faced 42 shots for the Centennials that night with Rizzo, Grant Cruikshank, Ryan Sandelin and Dakota Boutin scoring for the Vees.

Wednesday will feature a quartet of reinforcements for the Vees; Wyatt Sloboshan, a 20-year-old native of Vanscoy, Saskatchewan, comes to the Vees with 219 games of Western Hockey League experience under his belt. Sloboshan also served as captain of the Saskatoon Blades for the first 30 games of the 2016-17 season. He scored 44 goals with 77 assists during his time in the WHL.

Chris Klack will also return to the lineup Wednesday, he has been out since November 4 after suffering an injury during practice. Owen Sillinger served his two-game suspension last weekend and will also play Wednesday.

James Miller returns to the Vees blue line after spending the first half of the year at the University of New Hampshire. Last season Miller skated in 37 games with Penticton, scoring six goals and 12 assists.

Team Statistics

Leading scorers

Penticton Vees

Owen Sillinger – 19 G 18 A 35 GP

Nicky Leivermann – 7 G 22 A 36 GP

Taylor Ward – 11 G 16 A 30 GP

Merritt Centennials 

Henry Cleghorn – 16 G 19 A 36 GP

Zach Zorn – 15 G 20 A 36 GP

Nicholas Wicks – 8 G 19 A 36 GP

Special Teams

Penticton Vees

Power play – 21.3% (4th in BCHL)

Penalty kill – 88.0% (1st in BCHL)

Merritt Centennials

Power play – 18.2% (9th in BCHL)

Penalty kill – 82.0% (9th in BCHL)

Season Series

September 8, 2017 – Vees 4 @ Centennials 2 Boxscore

October 13, 2017 – Vees 3 @ Centennials 2 OT Boxscore

October 20, 2017 – Vees 4 vs Centennials 2 Boxscore

January 8, 2018 – Vees vs Centennials

January 19, 2018 – Vees vs Centennials

February 2, 2018 – Vees @ Centennials